EResearch for Otago Themes

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This page summarises some information that might be of use to those managing University of Otago Research Themes.


University website

It is likely that Themes would be expected to have a website. The Web Office can set up "basecamp" sites rapidly. It's probably best to try to get some content online as quickly as possible, and to develop a plan regarding how to manage updating and existing the content. Websites are usually moving targets, so it's unlikely to be worth ever considering the goal to be to "finish" the Theme's website.

Existing lists of services

Tools that Otago Themes have used

Email lists

Using an explicit list, as opposed to a large list of recipients in a normal email, has the advantage that the management of the list can be shared, and people can request to be invited or remove themselves (the list administrators are notified of such changes). These lists usually appear as, for example, but ITS can set up a top-level addresses for lists too.

Zoom desktop videoconferencing

I’ve had really good experiences with Zoom. Not only does it give you a Skype-like interface complete with large group support and desktop sharing bells and whistles, but it also provides dial-in phone numbers for people who don’t have a computer or a smartphone handy with which to connect. It’s free for Otago staff to host meetings, but there is a one-time, self-service registration process:

There is a generous limit of 50 meeting participants. However, ITS can upgrade a limited number of Zoom accounts to have "webinar" support, which pushes back this participant limit further, and facilitates a "live streaming" experience. It seems that those watching the webinar will still need to use the Zoom browser plug-in, but that the setup process for that is comparatively painless.


The Otago blog service allows for DIY publishing of content. I know of a number of groups that aren’t really using the blog site for blogs, but more for easily manipulatable web content (e.g. without needing to undergo Otago Website CMS training... although many Themes' managers will have this training anyway, probably).


This is the software behind the lecture recording system in the main lecture theatres, but you can install it on your own laptop. I record all my lectures and talks with it: while it can use a webcam, I usually just get it to record audio of me talking, and the slides I’m displaying on the projector.

We have used Echo360 to record speakers at annual Theme symposium events, and in meetings.


  • Syncplicity is essentially attempting to be Dropbox but in a service that ensures all the shared and private documents are stored on Otago ITS servers. Despite the local file storage, it still provides a web and smartphone management interface that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. All Otago users get 20GB to start with, with more available on request.
  • The High Capacity Storage (HCS) system is a more technically-oriented share-drive approach. It’s intended more for large research datasets than for management documents, which are probably better handled by Syncplicity.
  • The OURDrive document management system will also become increasingly important too, but I don't believe that it's intended for mainstream use yet.


Otago staff have access to include Qualtrics and Redcap for running web-based surveys.